What we’re tracking on 20 November 2019
Abdel Aal has spoken: The House is getting a sixth legislative session. The House of Representatives will begin a sixth and final legislative cycle that will begin in October 2020 and wrap up in January 2021, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal announced yesterday, according to Masrawy. Abdel Aal justified the additional “bridge” cycle by saying that the constitution does not specify the number of cycles parliament should be in session for, meaning that a sixth (or seventh, or eighth…) cycle is not problematic.
Why the extra session? The legislative cycle runs between October and June every year, a slight issue given the current five-year parliamentary term will end in January 2021. An additional mini session is therefore necessary to bridge the gap. It remains unclear whether this will be the system for all forthcoming parliamentary terms, or if our illustrious representatives will find a more long-term solution.
Other parliamentary news worth noting before you begin your day: Abdel Aal adjourned the assembly yesterday, giving our elected MPs a break until 8 December, having according to AMAY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is coming to Egypt next year, when we officially break ground on the USD 30 bn Dabaa nuclear power plant, Russia’s presidential envoy in the Middle East and Africa Mikhail Bogdanov tells the Russian news agency TASS. The plant’s first reactor is expected to be commissioned in 2026 and the entire plant will be completed by 2029.
Resumption of charter flights in sight? Bogdanov also hinted that there will be “important developments” in Cairo and Moscow’s relationship, and although he did not explicitly mention the issue, we’re hoping an agreement to resume direct flights from Russia to Sharm El Sheikh is on the horizon.
Aramco institutional tranche almost covered in first three days: Arrangers of Saudi Aramco’s IPO have reported strong early demand, with the institutional tranche almost covered in the first three days of book-building, Bloomberg reports. An apparently healthy appetite among institutional investors for shares comes a day after Aramco all but gave up marketing the offering overseas due to low demand among foreign investors. The Saudi government has reportedly been pressuring local investors to buy shares, and relaxed margin lending rules for banks. Aramco still has another two weeks to fill the institutional portion. The book-building period ends 4 December, while the retail subscription runs 17-28 November.
Tech stocks in the US have apparently had their best year in a decade this year, with investors showing interest in companies’ different offerings, according to the Wall Street Journal. The stocks have outperformed on the market, with the S&P 500 technology sector gaining 41% in 2019, its biggest one-year advance since 2009. These figures reflect confidence in the companies’ ability to drive robust sales and growing earnings growth, and working through issues that include a cooling economy, controversies over users’ data privacy, and trade tariffs.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is closing the book-building process for its USD 13 bn secondary stake sale early because of strong investor demand, with the institutional portion of the sale already oversubscribed, WSJ reports. The Hong Kong-listed group is expected to price its shares today ahead of the sale on 26 November. The transaction’s underwriters had said last week that the sale could be valued at USD 11.7 bn.
US gives greenlight to Israeli colonization of Palestine: The US has claimed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank — long denounced as illegal under international law — are actually legal, effectively giving Israel the greenlight to continue its colonization of the West Bank. The Foreign Ministry rejected the US announcement, calling the settlements “illegal and contrary with international law” in a statement.
International news to keep on your radar:
- Protests in Iran against oil price hikes have subsided shortly after the Revolutionary Guards warned anti-government protesters it could take “decisive action,” an Iranian judiciary spokesman said, according to Reuters. The UN’s human rights office says the demonstrations, which began on Friday, have left dozens dead, according to BBC.
- Lebanese protesters force parliament to close: Lebanese MPs have been prevented from entering parliament, increasing a month-long political crisis which three weeks ago saw PM Saad Hariri and his government resign, Bloomberg writes.
Bill Gates-backed secret solar startup makes breakthrough: An innovative solar company going by the name of Heliogen has found a way to generate heat strong enough to use in industrial processes such as cement, steel and glass manufacturing. The company uses artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to produce temperatures exceeding 1,000°C, effectively eliminating the need for fossil fuels in an energy-intensive sector of the economy. Check out the company’s press statement here.
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